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USDA

The School Nutrition Association showcased vendors with various food products that are being introduced to school districts across the country on July 15, 2019.
Chad Davis and Nicolas Telep | St. Louis Public Radio

About 6,000 nutrition professionals gathered at the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis. They came from all over the country to sample ramen noodle, Parmesan-crusted Alaskan pollock nuggets and low-sodium seasonings that can be used on a variety of meats.

But these foods won’t be served to adults. They’ll be consumed by kids in many of the country’s school cafeterias.

A chef participating in the School Nutrition Association's 73rd Annual National Conference, which focuses on innovation in foods, beverages and tools for school cafeterias.
School Nutrition Association | Flickr

This week nearly 6,000 school nutrition professionals from across the country gathered in St. Louis to participate in a three-day conference that focuses on innovation in foods, beverages and tools for school cafeterias. 

As part of the School Nutrition Association’s 73rd Annual National Conference, attendees will preview new kitchen equipment, menu planning, nutrition education resources and more to help serve creative nutritious lunch options for students, such as Korean barbecue tacos and yogurt dips. 

Long gone are the days of settling for a questionable spicy chicken sandwich paired with a carton of chocolate milk? On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, guest host Jim Kirchherr of the Nine Network talked about the latest trends in school lunches and more with St. Louis Public Radio reporter Chad Davis. 

Food nutrition specialists will learn about the latest trends in school lunches at the School Nutrition Association conference in July.
File Photo | KCLINE | ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

The people in charge of deciding what’s on the menu at school cafeterias around the country will converge on St. Louis to consider how to make school lunches better. 

The discussion will happen at the School Nutrition Association's national conference, July 14-16. The goal of the conference is for school nutrition professionals to learn about the latest changes and innovations in the food industry and how those trends can translate into nutritious and tasty meals.

Iron County Medical Center in Pilot Knob is at risk of closing. The USDA is opposing its plan to emerge from bankruptcy.
Iron County Medical Center

Iron County is one of the state’s least healthy counties, according to the Missouri Health Atlas.

So when Iron County Medical Center in Pilot Knob, about 85 miles southwest of St. Louis, filed for bankruptcy protection last year, there was great concern.

“We’re all people around here have. It’s a very impoverished area,” said Joshua Gilmore, the CEO of the hospital.

Sarah Schlafly, co-founder of Mighty Cricket, measures cricket powder on March 14, 2019 for a batch of dark cocoa oatmeal at Urban Eats Cafe.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Sarah Schlafly isn’t squeamish when it comes to eating insects.

For her, crickets are just “land shrimp.”

The St. Louis-based entrepreneur co-founded Mighty Cricket in 2017, a startup that produces breakfast foods with an unusual addition: crickets. The company now sells several products at local grocery stores and online, including pancake mix, oatmeal and protein powder — all made with powdered, roasted crickets.


A stand of trees in the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri looks a little more sparse than what is often depicted in a forest.

The trees are eight to ten feet apart, and that’s on purpose, fire management officer Greg Painter said.

Farm Bill Compromise Reached With SNAP Changes Out, Industrial Hemp In

Dec 11, 2018

Lawmakers unveiled the much-anticipated farm bill compromise Monday night, ending the months-long impasse over whether a critical piece of legislation that provides subsidies to farmers and helps needy Americans buy groceries could pass before the lame-duck session concludes at the end of the year.

A vendor sells vegetables from Ferguson's EarthDance Farms at a weekly farmer's market.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Students at Ferguson-Florissant schools will see more locally grown produce in their lunches this year, after winning a Farm to School grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  

The grant adds $91,500 to an existing program that works like a small business: The district hires high schoolers to prepare produce from local farms for the district’s schools to serve during student lunches. Shifts begin after school hours, and at $10 an hour, wages are competitive with other after school jobs.

school lunch - can't use more than 300 pixels wide
U.S. Department of Agriculture

U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, Mo., is sponsoring legislation she says will allow some school districts to avoid a federal requirement to increase the cost of student lunches. The National School Lunch Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, helps students who don’t qualify for free or reduced lunches to get a good meal, but the program requires participating schools to charge at least a threshold price of $2.70. 

Tim Lloyd/St. Louis Public Radio

A report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows the number of Missouri households threatened by hunger has grown over the past three years.

While the national average shows 14.7 percent of American homes had low or very low food security between 2010 and 2012, Missouri's average is 16.7 percent, or about one out of six households.  That's up from 15 percent during the 2007-2009 survey period.  Glenn Koenen is Hunger Task Force Chair for the Missouri Association for Social Welfare.

(Malory Ensor/KOMU News via Flickr)

Updated with comments from McCaskill conference call.

The entire state of Missouri is now a federal agriculture disaster area.

Seventeen of the state's counties, mostly in the Bootheel, had already received that declaration. Today's announcement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture extends that declaration to the other 97 counties and the city of St. Louis.

Oh, Springtime, you've come too soon

Feb 21, 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 21, 2012 - Friday, I took a hike down to the stream at the bottom of our country property in Wildwood and was shocked to see so many signs of spring in February. The bluebirds and snowdrops had arrived in January, much too early for the normal garden calendar, and tipped us off that things were amiss.

The U.S. Forest Service has released a final environmental impact statement for its new management plan for the nation's public forests.

The new Forest Planning Rule will guide the management of America's 193-million acres of national forest lands, and provide the framework for local forest managers to develop their own forest-specific management plans.

Local researcher awarded $1.3 million to study corn genetics

Jan 25, 2012
(via Flickr/Alternative Heat)

The National Science Foundation has awarded a local researcher $1.3 million to study the genetics of how corn plants take up nutrients.

The ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of fertilizer needed to grow the ubiquitous crop.

Ivan Baxter, a U.S. Department of Agriculture research scientist and assistant member at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, will lead the research.

(Tim Lloyd for St. Louis Public Radio)

With one of the biggest meals of the year fast approaching, those who rely on St. Louis area food pantries for Thanksgiving may be in trouble. The USDA’s food assistance program is sending far less to agencies like the St. Louis Area Food Bank than in past years. And as Tim Lloyd reports, the shortfall is making it hard for the food banks to keep up with a rising need for help.

USDA announces funding for rural broadband, Mo. not on list

Nov 14, 2011
(via Flickr/ Shane Pope)

Telephone utilities in 18 states will receive nearly $500 million in U.S. Agriculture Department funds to build, expand and improve broadband in rural areas.

The Ag Department made the announcement Monday during the annual meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in St. Louis.

In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the money to 28 telephone utilities will provide high-speed Internet that will improve health care and educational opportunities to rural areas, along with greater job opportunities.

Disaster declared for farmers in 23 Mo. counties

Sep 16, 2011
(via Flickr/Dodo-Bird)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued a disaster declaration for farmers in 23 Missouri counties, including several in the St. Louis area, hit by floods and heavy rain since May 1.

Friday's declaration allows farmers in those counties and 26 neighboring counties to seek federal assistance for losses caused by the severe weather. Gov. Jay Nixon had requested the declaration last month.

USDA to pay Mo. farmers to plant biomass energy crops

Jun 15, 2011
(Wikimedia Commons)

The USDA has chosen two new areas in Missouri to participate in a program promoting biomass energy crops.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the program will pay farmers to plant giant miscanthus, a perennial grass that can be used for energy production.

"Food deserts" and nutrition: a Q&A with USDA's Roger Beachy

Feb 28, 2011
(Art Chimes)

“Food deserts” – places without access to fresh produce and other healthy foods – continue to be a problem throughout the U.S.

Here in St. Louis, the Old North Grocery Co-op opened last summer, in an effort to increase healthy food options in an underserved part of the city. It’s the first co-op in Missouri to serve a predominantly low-income neighborhood.

The director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Roger Beachy was in St. Louis recently visiting the Old North co-op and discussing the issue of nutrition.

(via Flickr/Artotem)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is reporting that reserves of corn have hit their lowest level in over 15 years.

The high demand for corn could put upward pressure on food prices in 2011.

The USDA says demand for corn in the ethanol industry is up 50 million bushels after record-high production in December and January.

That has left the United States with the lowest surplus of corn since 1996.